HOME ALONE BY PAUL D. BRAZILL

home aloneA guilty pleasure is an oxymoron, of course, since no true pleasure should make you feel guilty, but we all have enough skeletons in our closet to make a palaeontologist envious. And I’m rattling mine now.

Make no bones about it – bones/skeletons, see what I did then?- the first two Home Alone films are misanthropic, dark and violent pieces of work, indeed. These are stories about child abuse, after all. Tales of smarmy yuppie parents who are so wrapped up in their own petty little troubles that their kids are pretty much invisible to them. Well one kid in particular is: Kevin. He’s so invisible, in fact, that they go on holiday and leave him behind to fend for himself. Twice! Even in New York’s low life infested Times Square!

And the poor kid really has to fight to survive on his own, too; in both films he’s attacked by two ruthless criminals. Many times. But he fights back by creating an array of sadistic weapons worthy of the Saw films and he tortures and torments them with glee.

In Home Alone one and two, Macaulay Culkin plays the neglected Kevin with a maniacal glee worthy of  Heath Ledger’s Joker and, in fact, all of the cast are top turns, apart from the bloke in the second film who plays a rich playboy called Donald Trump and is too far fetched to be believed.

Inside Pandora’s Box by Jesse Rawlins

Pandora didn’t say a word; but of course she didn’t have to. Her fathomless eyes spoke volumes, and calmed his burdened-mind. The cancer that ravished her body had changed so many things. Yet the taloned-beast had failed to mutilate their love. Chemo had claimed her hair; but he found her wig exotic, black waves tonight pinned-back with Oriental Jade.

A tad bit cumbersome though, Pandora’s riddled glands no longer functioned properly. But beneath their rainbow-quilt, he knew what he would find: the loveliest heart-shaped box. And with a tenderness born of intimacy, he massaged the medical lubricant (without which sex was painful).

Until at last entwined in Love—Jake’s many worries melted.

Languidly wishing he could linger, Mother Nature called. And if he didn’t answer, his screaming bladder would explode.

Jake crawled out the coffin. And gently closed the lid. There was no place he felt better—

Than inside Pandora’s Box.

***

Manhunt Ends in Chilling Climax     

Skulled by Peter Blunt: Beat Writer for OhMG!

MONTREAL—In a real-life rendition of Tales from the Crypt, bristling federal agents manacled Jake “The Snake” Coleman—as the former mortician slithered from a deceased woman’s coffin—shortly after midnight.

As eerie-night waxed into morn, droves of forensic specialists, masked and clad in latex, scoured the industrial warehouse, where this alarming crime took place. But what’s left of the debauched corpse has yet to be identified.

Various ranking authorities (from the United States and Canada) say their efforts will continue. But there’s simply not much substance for detectives to collect—in what they’re aptly calling an “open-and-shut case.”

“As we breached the basement I watched Coleman suddenly open—then close that coffin lid. Soon as I spotted the pants goo, it was obvious what took place,” said U.S. Marshall Patty Cakes. “Besides state and federal lines—this guy crossed some lines few people dream of crossing. His cold-frosting on our three-year-hunt was absolutely chilling.”

Coleman, 34 (from Alabama-USA), launched his cryptic coffin circuit three years ago in May: leaving frigid puzzle-pieces—of cancerous female corpses—in his putrid wake. Fleeing too-hot Alabama, the ex-mortician humped his way thru Arizona’s Grandest Canyon: thumped Ruby Ridge in Idaho; then pounded poor Sioux Falls back down in South Dakota.

But two years into the manhunt, Coleman’s arctic trail turned colder—than his freeze-dried taste in women. And until his coffin-chronicles in wintry-Montreal, stifled authorities held no clue as to what Jake’s Bad Snake’s been doing. Nor they ruefully say do they have a sniff of whom.

OhMG! has learned that Dr. Eudora Dahl (the famous psycho-therapist of our many sultry dreams) has been hired to charm “The Snake” in hopes of getting answers. But we at OhMG! certainly hold our doubts: the dynamic Dr. D is not a bony-old cadaver. Despite her expertise that crunching critter Coleman will likely prove a Nut that the Hot-Doc just can’t crack.

***

Jacob (as she called him) didn’t mind their talks.

Though he much preferred dead women.

Because they couldn’t talk.

To Jacob’s way of thinking, not talking made them Virtuous. And worthy of Adoration. Like his beloved sweet Pandora—who he literally sorely missed after three punishing celibate months in this lunatic asylum, where half the raving lunatics literally crawled the walls. (All of them sadly male; and all of them sadly living.)

In Jacob’s humble opinion, Dr. Eudora C. Dahl was in fact two separate women—trapped inside one body.

The “C” he’d learned on the Internet, aptly stood for Cathy. And with her Medusa snake-like hair, Dr. Chatty-Cathy Dahl was anything but Virtuous. While her quiet-intriguing superior was elegantly named Eudora.

The Chatty-Cathy doctor also displayed a sloppy penchant for making false assumptions. But discretion he always felt was the better part of Valor. And how better to woo Eudora than with the Knightly Code of Chivalry? So not once did Jacob bother to correct the erroneous Doc.

“During our last session, we talked about your mother. And I bet you’d feel amazing, if we spent the day releasing these conflicting bottled feelings.”

As this proposition climaxed, outside her second-floor window (which overlooked the yard) a guy called Harvey Danger—clawed past their plate-glass view.

A fairly common site; so the three of them ignored him.

A month into his arrival, Jake had taken time to reflect—this crazy Canadian hospice wasn’t all that different than the Lone-Star state of Texas (or a bunch of other states).

Just as Jacob knew old Harvey was headed for the roof, he knew where the Doc was headed. He also knew exactly what an Oedipal Complex was. So he absolutely knew—that the crude delinquent Oedipus didn’t haunt his troubled Psyche: because only stinking perverts craved sex with their mothers.

“No need to plow old ground, Doc.”

“But plowing through old turf often yields such fresh desserts.”

Jake adeptly caught embarrassed Eudora’s darting eyes.

They both had caught Doc Cat’s crassly-catty drift.

***

Eudora Dahl’s frustrations mounted—in some deeply troubling ways. The technique that she’d perfected was technically very simple: stroke their egos, crank their fantasies—and away these whack-jobs went. They quickly spewed their guts. And typically sprayed some hair gel: an unfortunate clinical side-effect that couldn’t be prevented. Not without pre-approved castration (a snip she always offered; and all the nuts rejected).

Throughout this messy protocol, the much-loved Dr. Dahl never lifted a sultry-finger.

But after these purging psychic cleansings—which included countless bottles of anti-bacterial soap (let alone replacing a ton of squishy office chairs)—her work began in earnest, as her sultry-fingers chronicled every squalid detail in her Best-Selling Tell-ALL books. After each new hot release, she gave exclusive interviews to the highest bidders (which meant she’d posed for Penthouse, defunct-Playgirl and Playboy). Besides shopping and the gym, she devoted her remaining time to hot-gratuitous-sex, which she always performed blind-folded (while zoning on designer drugs).

Not merely insanely-recalcitrant each time the two of them talked, this new strange and maddening nut-job seemed impervious to her charms—no matter how she dressed. Or how many wigs she wore.

Her initial meeting with Mr. Coleman, she’d played the cancer card: by fashioning a corset, which artfully made her look as if one of her breasts was missing; and naturally she had pinned—a pink breast cancer ribbon—where her aching phantom boob would normally come to rest.

But this cold and limbless fish had not produced a drop of perverse perspiration; and not once did she catch a gleam in his squidded unblinking-eyes.

She then hired Hollywood artists from the sets of Horror movies. And they’d made her look as dead as a still-breathing-girl could seem. But all to no affect.

To further compound her troubles, she found the guy attractive in a primal kind of way. His uncanny ethereal tendency to linger in her eyes spurred these feelings further. And ultimately fueled her anger—as he prattled about Pandora—day-after-day-after-day.

To alleviate her frustrations, she’d booked a beach resort vacation: at a place she called Head-Med—where she’d get her carpet hoovered morning, noon, and night. (Much like the heralded rose, cunnilingus by any name—was always thankfully cunnilingus.)

***

Seven days a week, the asylum hosted seminars and an array of lifestyle workshops. So rather than waste his days throwing personal Pity Parties (or watching the bloody crazies crawl the blood-stained walls), Jake scrutinized their catalogue, and judiciously enrolled in two specific courses: Assertiveness Training 201 and Anger Management for Murderers (also known as AMM).

Jake had never killed a soul. And until this incarceration, had never once felt tempted. But each morning with his oatmeal, he always read the News (in several local papers; and also on the Web). And naturally he felt mystified by his portrayal in the Media.

The outlet that wrote the cruelest things called itself OhMG! And righteous-Jake soon lasered all his newfound-rage at the rag’s iconic writer: the phalus-sophical Peter Blunt.

To state his feelings bluntly: Jake ached to beat the writer—with the salty Peter’s peter—till all that remained of Blunt was six-inches of his life.

Toting his supplies as he schlepped from AMM, Jake spotted Dr. Dahl by her shiny silver Jaguar—hopping round in circles—like a bunny cranked on meth.

Unlike crazies climbing walls, this was something new. Energized himself, he strode alongside the Jag and leaned against the trunk, where he overheard the doctor snorting sharp instructions to a dim-wit tow-truck driver.

Stabbing her iPhone in mid-hop—she froze on seeing Jake: and the supernova smile on his enraptured face.

“Penny for your thoughts,” she snapped.

Stroking a new goatee, Jake cocked his head—and smirked: “I bet you’d feel amazing if we did something with your hair.”

“Maybe we will,” she countered, “if you tell me what turns you on.”

“Hair is superficial, Doc. You need to flip the question.”

Surprised by his sudden candor she adjoined him at the Jag; both their shoulders touching, as she frantically scrolled her phonebook: looking for a livery to carry her to the airport. If she missed this flight to the Rug Docs she just might lose her mind. But if she left her Jag here with the whack-jobs, they’d not only climb the roof: she’d come back to squishy seats.

“Okay then, Mister Coleman: besides my current hairstyle—what are the things that turn you off?”

“Keep working’ the puzzle doc: I’m sure you’ll sort it out.”

Again with his recalcitrance. Fearful of losing headway, she stoically plowed ahead: “I think I’ve worked a few things out—”

Amused he arched his eyebrows.

ALL those WOMEN that you slept with during the past three stressful years—against unseemly odds—it’s merely a strange coincidence that all of them had cancer.”

She finally caught a gleam in eyes that glowed with warmth.

“And despite what everyone’s saying, you do NOT have a coffin fetish. While you were being hunted, you often needed a place to rest. And since you’d worked as a mortician, coffins sprung to mind—almost anywhere you traveled, these boxes were available. Why stay at cheap motels—or crash in abandoned buildings—when you could steal a box instead. All the Cadillac models are comfortably upholstered. And impervious to the elements.

Nevertheless on a psychic level, these coffins where you rested eventually turned symbolic: they became your secret place, where you felt warm and safe; hidden from the world—as you hoped for a better future. That’s what Pandora represented.

She also never judged you—nor would she ever leave you.

“And ever since your capture, you’re struggling with her loss.”

***

Impressed by Doc’s conclusions, Jake smoothly crawled inside; and gently closed the lid.

There was no place he’d feel better: than inside Eudora’s trunk.

Eudora didn’t say a word; but of course she didn’t have to. Her fathomless eyes spoke volumes, and calmed his troubled-mind. While behind that duct-taped mouth—the suddenly-Virtuous Dr. Dahl screamed in silent horror: as the cuddled threesome lurched behind the rumbling-rolling tow truck.

Using the therapist’s iPhone, Coleman snapped her picture: which he fired to Peter Blunt and the jerks at OhMG!

Along with a torrid text—

“Thinkin’ of you—you wankers. This is who I’m doin’. But you’ll never catch a whiff! (’Cept in your twisted dreams.) As to where I’m doin’ Eudora? The GPS is off: Use your perverted imaginations. (What I do when I’m with women is none of your stinkin’ business.) With snarky regards, Jake Coleman XXOO!”

This assertive deed now done (and feeling a lot-less-murderous), Jake deleted both pic and message; then tugged the battery from the phone. Now the time had come to delete Ms. Chatty-Cathy from his eternal memory. Strangling Dr. Dahl would be a mercy killing (that just might save his sanity)—and save the trapped Eudora: whose wig would look exotic—

After he dispatched the dispatched driver, and shaved that Medusa hair. (If only all Life’s problems were so simply superficial. And so easily resolved.)

Before the demented client snapped her fragile hyoid—and, how had she crassly put it? Ah, yes: plowed her aged turf in his kinky-quest for fresh desserts, a cryptic piece of Coleman’s puzzle finally tumbled into place.

“OMG!” she thought. My mother always told me: You talk too bloody much.

Ah, well. While thirty-eight was young, her carpet had certainly borne some heavy Industrial use. Knowing Coleman would adore it (long after she was gone) left her coyly flattered—

She tenderly kissed his lips thru a half-inch-mound of duct-tape (which sneaky Jake had hidden beneath the books inside his bag). Though she hadn’t figured out how he’d sabotaged the Jag.

Drawing her last breath, the relaxed doctor smiled: Famous Jake “The Snake” Coleman—was in her well-upholstered trunk. The jealous boys at OhMG! would have a load of things to say.

To Coleman’s way of thinking Curiosity killed Doc Cat. He liked her a whole lot better now that she was Virtuous. And he would answer all her questions when the three of them had dinner.

Bio: Addicted to tawdry tales that sometimes make her blush, Jesse typically writes crime, mysteries, and humor. You’ll usually find her stories on the darker side of the tracks including Flash Fiction Offensive, flash-zine Shotgun Honey, and The Rye Whiskey Review. Jesse also pens Bad Ass Book Reviews, and author interviews—fondly known as Ink-Quisitions—for Southern Crime mag Story and Grit. At the time of this writing, she hasn’t killed anyone yet.

“Inside Pandora’s Box” kindly first appeared in Canada’s eclectic and electric Red Fez magazine.

Wanna say “Hello” you can vist her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jesse.rawlins.583

Jesse Rawlins

PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A CONSUMER: GRAHAM DUFF

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Photo (c) Xavier Itter.

 

SONGS

A Mutual Friend – Wire

I Can’t Swim (I Have Nightmares) – Ludus

Sleepwalker’s Woman – Scott Walker

Atomic Little Thing – Family of God

Weather Report 2 – The Fall

Big Sex II – The Anti Group

Just a Minute – Faye Wong

The Universe Is A Haunted House (Live in Prague) – Coil

TELEVISION

Hancock’s Half Hour (1956 – 1960)

Doctor Who (1963 -1977)

U.F.O. (1970)

Gangsters (1975-1978)

The Middlemen (1977)

Twin Peaks  (1990 – 1991 & 2017)

The Day Today (1994)

The League of Gentlemen (1999 – 2002 & 2017)

BOOKS

Cities of the Red Night – William S. Burroughs

Remove Your Hat – Benjamin Péret

Miss Shumway Waves A Wand – James Hadley Chase

Today I Wrote Nothing – Daniil Kharms

Without Feathers – Woody Allen

Les Chants du Maldoror – Comte de Lautréamont

Doctor Who & The Auton Invasion – Terrance Dicks

Crash – J.G. Ballard

 

FILMS

The Rebel (1961)

Scream and Scream Again (1970)

O Lucky Man! (1973)

The Phantom of Liberty (1974)

Mirror (1975)

The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976)

In The Mood For Love (2000)

Mullholland Drive (2001)

PLACES

Golden Acre, Great Harwood, Lancashire.

The Museum of Modern & Contemporary Art, Nice.

My bed.

BIO: Graham Duff is a prolific scriptwriter and script editor, whose shows include the BBC TV sitcoms Ideal, Hebburn and Dr. Terribleʼs House of Horrible, the Sky Arts horror anthology series The Nightmare Worlds of H.G. Wells and Radio 4 comedy shows such as Nebulous, Stereonation and Count Arthur Strongʼs Radio Show.

He’s written articles about music for Wire magazine, as well as publishing essays on contemporary art.

He writes about the yearʼs best new music releases for the Dangerous Minds website and presents his own online music show Graham Duffʼs Mixtape.

As an actor he often appears in his own shows and heʼs also had tiny, tiny roles in big productions such Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Doctor Who. His book Foreground Music: A Life in 15 Gigs will be published in 2019.

Photo (c) Xavier Itter.

Bullman The Bulldog by Paul D. Brazill

bullmanOne of British television’s great creations, George Bulman first appeared on the small screen in 1976, in Granada Television’s hard edged crime series, The XYY Man, based on the books by Kenneth Royce. The XYY Man in question was a cat burglar called Spider Scott who was trying to go straight but regularly ended up getting caught in the MI5’s grubby web.

Doggedly on Scott’s trail was the real star of the show, Detective Sergeant George Bulman, brilliantly played by Don Henderson. Bulman was gruff and eccentric: He always wore gloves. usually had a menthol inhaler stuffed up his nose, carried his things in a plastic supermarket carrier bag and endlessly quoted Shakespeare.

It was a good series, too, but Bulman owned the show and when it ended, after two series, it was logical that Bulman and his sidekick Willis (no, not THAT Willis ) were given their own spin off show, Strangers.

Strangers –with a brilliant jazzy theme tune – started off as a pretty good, straight ahead, cop show spiced up by Bulman’s oddball character. But as the series progressed it became quirkier and quirkier, finding its form in season three when the brilliant Mark ‘Taggart’ McManus became Bulman’s boss.

The last episode had Bulman going undercover in a jazz band and featured music by Tangerine Dream and Pigbag. And the title quoted Jean Cocteau ,‘With these gloves you can pass through mirrors’– and saw Bulman trying to ditch his OCD by taking off his gloves and buggering off with McManus’ wife.

And when Strangers ended, after five series, there was still no stopping Bulman, who returned to star in his own show, Bulman. He was now an unofficial private detective working out of an antique clock repair shop with a spiky Scottish sidekick, occasionally working for a dodgy government agency or Mark MacManus. Bulman’s eccentricity was even more to the forefront in this series and the stories were comfortably off the wall.

Here’s Bulman’s first appearance in The XYY Man.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjKdl8wli7E&feature=related

This post first appeared at Pulp Metal Magazine.

 

Failing Better: Brit Grit Comedy by Paul D. Brazill

ladykillers1“Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot. To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!” – Charlie Chaplin

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.’” – Samuel Becket.

As Chaplin showed, there has always been a dark aspect to British comedy and, indeed, there is also usally a sharp, shot of humour in British dark fiction. Tragicomedy that errs on the side of the tragic, perhaps.

A perfect home for life’s perpetual failures, then.

Think of Alexander Mackendrick’s classic 1955 film The Ladykillers where a group of gangsters hole-up in a cute little old ladies house and take turns trying to kill her. They fail, of course.

Or try the eponymous character created by comedian Tony Hancock in the 1950s who, on radio, on television and in film, tried his hand at so many different activities and failed. One episode –The Bedsitter – teeters dangerously on the precipice of bleak existentialism. The Bedsitter is a one-room set, one-man-show, where Hancock endlessly flips through a Bertrand Russell tome trying to find meaning in life, but fails, of course. As Hancock said: ‘Stone me, what a life!’

And more: Sixties sit-com The Worker had the perpetually unemployed Charlie Drake regularly annoying Mr Pugh at the employment centre, trying lots of jobs and failing at all of them. One of the United Kingdom’s longest running television series, Only Fools and Horses, featured wheeling and dealing market stall traders whose scams always failed but who genuinely believed that ‘This time next year, we’ll be millionaires.’

Indeed, if the shiny happy American comedy series Friends had been made in the UK it would probably have ended up more like Sartre’s No Exit since hell truly is THOSE people.

So, if crime fiction is about bringing order to chaos and noir is about bringing chaos to order, then perhaps British comedy is pure noir.

Or maybe, it’s just the weather.

Find out more about PAUL D. BRAZILL here.

 

Carry On Crime by Paul D. Brazill

It’s been said that the British like eccentrics and I think it’s certainly true that wcarry on constablee have a predisposition towards the odd, the awkward – especially where our entertainers are concerned. Britain has had its share of slick matinée idols of course, but there was always something a bit rough around the edges about the likes of Oliver Reed, Richard Burton and Sean Connery.

And what a bunch of rough diamonds the Carry On team were! True British eccentrics and every last one of them great character actors.

A couple of years ago, over at his regular column for The Highland Times, crime writer Tony Black talked about the seemingly perennial plans to reboot the Carry On film series.

And I stuck my neb in too!

I said:

 “I think it was very much a product of its time. It was the end of the era of seaside postcards. A celebration of absurdity and the grotesque. Things are cleaner these days and people are more delicate. It’s best to keep it in its world of pent up sexual frustration and class war. I think one of the reasons that it worked was because the actors were just that—actors. Not just comedians.”

Not that it’s stopped me trying to write a Carry On crime fiction novel – I’ve been trying for ages! Of course it’s not that easy but the influence is certainly there in a few of my books.

In my first book – Guns Of Brixton – the two hapless and hopeless criminals who dress in drag to rob a jewellery store in Brixton- were based on Bernard Bresslaw and Sid James. And the influence is even stronger in my book Too Many Crooks.

too many crooksThe title was filched from a 1950s comedy that starred Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw. The book’s high- class fence Sidney Hawkins, with his cackling laugh and coarse looks, is completely Sid James. After all, Sid played Charlie Hawkins in Carry On Cabby. Sidney Hawkins even shouts ‘Carry On Criminal!’ at one point.

At least one reviewer spotted the influence and said: ‘If you can imagine a Guy Ritchie film re-cast with Carry On actors, you will come close to understanding this book’s offbeat charm!’

So, I’ll Carry On!

Paul D. Brazill’s books include Last Year’s Man, Guns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, and Kill Me Quick. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. He has even edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling True Brit Grit – with Luca Veste. His blog is here: https://pauldbrazill.com

Fiction Extract: Head by Vincent Zandri

head vinceFucking Chuck. Charles. Chuckles.

He’s a pisser, let me tell you. Especially when he gets drinking the Jamie. Jameson that is. He’s a nut for it, and it brings out the devil in him. So, that night at Lanies Bar, he thought it would be funny to head outside in the cold and draw a big cock on Timmy’s car, because Timmy loves his black Beemer more than he loves himself. Timmy AKA Buddha. And let me tell you something, Buddha loves himself like a heated dog loves humping. So, you can imagine how much he loved that second-hand black Beemer. But still, Chuck thought it would be hilarious if he ran his fingers through the dust that coated the front door while Buddha was inside the bar downing his sorrows in vodka and Heineken.

As for me—your humble narrator and younger of the three amigos—I’m Jones or Jonesy, as they nicknamed me. I stood back and watched while drinking my beer, my leather coat keeping out the cold winter wind, my scruffy face needing a shave, and my black skull cap, work boots, and jeans covering a stocky body making me look like an off-duty Longshoreman, even if I was a writer by trade.

I also couldn’t stop laughing. Here’s the thing that took me by complete surprise. Fucking Chuckles is an artist. He might not be much in the brains department, and he might be a little soft in the middle and balding on top, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t draw the most anatomically correct cock you ever did see. It was a real thing of beauty to behold. Something only a visual artist would appreciate. And probably a lover of porn. It was a long cock, curved for dramatic effect, with a big floppy ball sack and a lightning strike vein running along the shaft. He even took the care and time to add a patch of pubic hair to the masterpiece.

Fucking Chuckles . . .

Sure, as he created it, I smoked the shit out of a cigarette and stole sips from my long-necked Budweiser, but like I said, I was also laughing my ass off. Chuckles had that talent. He could make even the nastiest of people laugh. It was a gift. He didn’t take shit seriously. Everything was a joke to him. A sixty-three-year-old high school kid, that was Chuckles all right. A dude who never stopped getting himself into trouble; and a dude who, because he was always getting himself into trouble, never stopped entertaining.

Like the time he put a bumper sticker on the back of his insurance coworker’s car. The bumper sticker said, “HONK IF YOU’RE AS GAY AS I AM!” Poor bastard didn’t know the sticker was there until three days later when a passerby pointed it out to him. Some gay dude walked up to him on a street corner and said, “Honk, honk, big fella.” What did the co-worker immediately think? He thought, “Fucking Chuckles.”

So, when Chuckles completed the cock rendering, I knew he could hardly wait until Buddha came out of the bar which would be any minute since he had to get home to the girlfriend or his ass would be grass. We both stood outside the bar, drinking our drinks, smoking our butts, freezing our asses off in the Albany mid-winter, but laughing too. Snickering like two little kids who’d just rang their neighbor’s doorbell and took off.

But I’d be goddamned it wasn’t Buddha who exited the bar and approached the black Beemer. Instead, it was a dude by the name of Rod Last Name Not Known. Chuckles and I nearly shit ourselves. Rod was one of those big, scary, mysterious dudes who came into Lanies every now and again, sat by himself, never spoke a word to anyone, just played his Quickdraw, drank his red wine, and kept all to his lonesome. I mean, everyone knew who he was and what he did for a living, something that could make you dead, very quickly; but no one dared talk to him about it for fear of pissing him the fuck off. So, we all kept our distance from the big mafia thug.

Tonight, he was dressed in his usual black pants, patent leather shoes, and black leather coat with a shirt and tie underneath, his thick black hair slicked back on his round head. When he approached the Beemer and caught sight of the cock, he stopped dead in his tracks. It was like he didn’t quite comprehend what it was he was seeing. Like he wasn’t looking at a very well rendered display of the mature male anatomy but, instead, at his own life flashing before his eyes.

“Jesus Christ, Chuck,” I said, under my breath. “You fucking drew a cock on the wrong fucking car.”

He slapped his cigarette down on the ground.

“That ain’t the Buddha’s Beemer? I thought for sure that’s Buddha’s Beemer. He always parks it there.”

His eyeglasses covered face took on a look of despair as Rod Last Name Not Known about-faced and locked his gaze on us. I immediately felt my heart jump into my throat, and I averted my eyes like the action might make me invisible.

“Hey, you, Stronzi . . . assholes!” Rod Last Name Not Known barked. “You responsible for this piece of artwork on my ride?”

Now, Chuckles wasn’t Chuckles at all anymore. He was back to being just Chuck. He stood there in shock. Incapable of saying anything or doing anything.

“Answer me, Stronzi!” Rod shouted.

He started speed-walking toward us. I felt the cigarette fall out from between my lips, heard it land on the concrete.

“Run,” Chuck said.

“Run where exactly?” I asked.

“Back inside the bar.”

I was just about to do it when Rod Last Name Not Known reached into his coat pocket, pulled out a gun.

“Walk to the car,” he said. “Now, Adesso, now.”

Chuck put his hands up like a surrendering POW. He was still holding onto his beer.

“Drop your beer,” Rod Last Name Not Known insisted.

Chuck dropped it. It smashed against the frozen concrete.

“Now walk, teste di cazzo,” he insisted.

I leaned toward Chuck. “What’s teste di cazzo mean?”

“It’s Italian. Testes is dick. Cazzo means head, I think.”

“Dick head,” I said. “Makes sense considering the circumstances.”

We walked. It was all I could do not to crap myself.

When we got to his car, Rod said, “Okay, which one of you is the artist? And don’t lie.”

“He is,” I said.

Chuck shot me a look like Thanks a lot, traitor.

“Down on your knees,” Rod demanded. “As close as you can possibly get to the big cock you drew on my car.”

Chuck slowly, achingly got down on his knees. That’s when Rod cupped the back of Chuck’s head with his free hand and wiped the car door with his face. The big beautiful cock disappeared. Rod pulled Chuck’s face from the car door by grabbing hold of his gray hair. What’s left of his hair, that is.

“Now, how did that taste?”

Chuck’s face was black with grime.

“It tasted like your mother’s pussy,” he said.

That’s when Rod Last Name Not Known slapped the gun against Chuck’s head, and then he pistol-whipped me too.

When I came to, Chuck and I found ourselves stuffed into a tight, cramped, black space. The trunk of Rod’s BMW, no doubt. We were rushing along a winding road, destination unknown.

“Chuck,” I said. “You awake?”

“Yes, I’m awake,” he said, voice pissed off.

“Why’d you go and make that crack about his mother?”

“Because he made me mad, Jonesy.”

“He was holding a gun on us. He could have killed us on the spot.”

“He’s gonna fucking kill us anyway, you dumb shit,” he said. “He works for the mafia. What difference does it make what the hell we say to that fucking thug at this point?”

I felt my insides slide south.

“Chuck,” I said.

“What is it now?”

“I think I’m gonna poop myself.”

“Jesus,” he said, “you’re practically on top of me. At least wait until he lets us out.”

I puckered my ass, hoped for the best.

Suddenly, the car made a hard turn, bounced along a rough road, then came to a stop. Rod Last Name Not Known killed the engine, got out. I heard footsteps. The footsteps of a big, bad, killer of a man. The trunk opened, and he shined a bright Maglite in our eyes. The LED light burned my retinas.

“Let’s go, teste di cazzo,” he said, grabbing hold of my leather coat collar, pulling me out with the strength in just one of his arms, dropping me to the frozen ground.

It was then I realized I was hogtied with a couple of those thick plastic garbage bag ties. One around my wrists which were bound behind my back, and one around my ankles. When Rod pulled Chuck out of the trunk, I could see he’d been bound the same way. My head hurt. I knew an egg-sized lump had formed where Rod walloped me with that handgun. It was tough to see in the darkness, but I could make out that Chuck was bleeding. That was confirmed when the white Maglite sprayed over his face. A vertical stream of blood flowed from the side of his forehead down his left cheek. The dark blood made his stubble shine when the light hit it.

“Now, gentlemen,” Rod Last Name Not Known said, as he took a step back, but keeping the gun pointed at us with one hand, and the Maglite with the other, blinding us. “Since you enjoy cock so much, tell you what I’m going to do for you.”

 Find out what happens next by grabbing HEAD by Vincent Zabdri HERE!

Find out more about VINCENT ZANDRI here.

Stone Me, What A Life! – Tony Hancock by Paul D. Brazill

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They say that all small boys are influenced by their big brother’s music collection, and while that may well be true of me, I was also influenced by my family’s taste in other forms of entertainment.  Luckily I grew up in a time when television and radio weren’t as youth focused as they are now and I could enjoy the same shows as my parents and siblings, such as Will Hay, Ealing Comedies and Tony Hancock. During the miners’ strikes in the ‘70s there were power cuts. Which meant no telly. Reading comics by candle light and listening to an old transistor radio. Radio 2, usually, since my parents were of that age group. The Navy Lark, Round The Horne and, of course, Hancock.

Tony Hancock – the easiest comedian for charades – and I share the same birthday, May 12th. Whether or not we share the same death day remains to be seen, of course, and let’s just hope we can put that little fact-finding mission on hold for a while, eh?

One of the UK’s major television and radio stars throughout the 1950s and early ‘60s, British actor and comedian Tony Hancock killed himself on 25 June 1968. He overdosed on booze and pills and left a suicide note that said:

‘Things just seemed to go too wrong too many times’

Indeed, Hancock’s eponymous character on radio, on television, and in film, regularly tried his hand at countless activities and endeavours that invariably failed.

One episode – The Bedsitter – teeters dangerously on the precipice of bleak existentialism. The Bedsitter is a one-room set, one-man-show, where Hancock endlessly flips through a Bertrand Russell tome trying to find meaning in life, but fails, of course.

Tony Hancock - The RebelIn the most famous episode of his television show The Blood Donor,  ‘the lad himself’  proudly donates a pint of his particularly rare blood only to end the episode by cutting himself so badly on a breadknife that he needs a transfusion of his own blood. The recording of the television version of The Blood Donor proved to be problematic as Hancock had recently been involved in a car accident and suffered from concussion so that he had to read his lines from autocue.

After the American failure of his film debut The Rebel, Hancock broke with his long time writing team of Galton and Simpson, who were responsible for most of the great writing in Hancock’s shows, as well as ditching his long-term agent, the splendidly named Beryl Vertue. This pretty much led to his career decline.

Disappointment was always breathing at the back of Hancock’s neck, it seemed.

Hancock, and other character actors, are regularly in my mind when I’m creating characters. Quigley, the hit man in my yarn The Bucket List, was partly inspired by the image of Tony Hancock stalking the streets with a gun.

Hancock could be said to be the perfect noir comedian, in fact. I’ve said before that crime fiction is about bringing order to chaos and noir is about bringing chaos to order, and Tony Hancock’s comedy is pure noir. A natural loser. When I started writing I wanted to write small, odd stories about small, odd people – like Hancock.

Like his fictional incarnation, Hancock was prone to introspection, a concoction of egotism and self-doubt which he bared when he was interviewed in the BBCs Face To Face programme in the early 1960s.

Spike Milligan said of Hancock that he was a ‘Very difficult man to get on with. He used to drink excessively. You felt sorry for him. He ended up on his own. I thought, he’s got rid of everybody else, he’s going to get rid of himself and he did.’

As Tony Hancock said: ‘Stone me, what a life!’

(This first appeared at Tom Leins’ blog as part of his Under The Influence series)